Today’s Scripture: According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. Philippians 1:20

In the early 1900’s, Japan invaded and occupied Korea. One of the first things that they did was to board up all of the evangelical churches. Christians were not permitted to assemble. One pastor pleaded to the local police chief to allow them to assemble just one more time. Eventually, he agreed.

Word spread quickly that the Christians would be allowed to meet together one last time, and on that day, the church was full of people. They sang gloriously because they hadn’t been able to sing in so long. While the Christians were singing, the church doors were closed and barricaded by order of the same chief police officer.

As they were singing the song, “Nearer My God to Thee,” kerosene was poured all around the church. The police chief ordered the church be lit on fire. As the smoke rose, a few people tried to jump out of windows and were met by bullets. The pastor knew this would be the end, so to help calm the panicking men, women, and children in the church, he led them in the song, “At the Cross.”

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Just before the roof collapsed, they began to sing the last verse.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away-
‘Tis all that I can do!

At the cross, at the cross,
Where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away-
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day.
– Isaac Watts

Those last few words were drowned out. That chorus would have to be finished in the throne room of Heaven.  As sad as this story is, it is a story of hope. Why? We don’t have to fear what man can do to us! Those Koreans, the moment they died, were at the Savior’s throne. I am sure, even now, they are enjoying the rewards for their act of hope in Christ. Hope is not based on circumstances; it is based on Christ.

Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.